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Here’s What You Need to Know About Jawbone Reconstruction


Written by prositesdentalDec 31 • 4 minute read

Older man smiling with his wife in the background

Jawbone surgery, which is also known as orthognathic surgery can be a great choice for moderate to major jaw problems. Surgeons who complete this type of procedure are known as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, or OMS, and they are specifically trained in orthognathic surgery, which can really improve things like chewing, speaking, and appearance. If you think you might need orthognathic surgery at some point in the foreseeable future, here are some things you might like to know about:

Situations Requiring Reconstructive Jaw Surgery Are Often Inherited

More often than not, in situations where reconstructive jaw surgery is necessary, the conditions have actually been inherited. This means that the jaw has simply grown into a shape or position that is not desirable and creates problems. There are however other conditions which could lead to the need for a reconstructive jaw surgery, including things like severe arthritis in the jawbone, or a serious facial injury. 

Here are some situations which might cause the need for orthognathic surgery, or jawbone reconstruction:

  • Certain facial imbalances, including biting issues like cross-bite, overbite, under-bite, or a deficient chin
  • Cosmetic issues such as a smile where the lips show large areas of the gums, or where the lips cover all of the teeth
  • Sleep apnea disorder, which is a disorder that results in constant snoring and/or breathing issues while sleeping
  • TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) or other jaw problems which result in a case of chronic or severe jaw pain
  • Significant eating issues such as problems with swallowing, biting or chewing food easily or properly
  • Greater wear and tear on the teeth

Should you need a jaw construction surgery, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon team will likely consult with your dentist and orthodontist during the entire course of treatment. Often this treatment includes a braces treatment which lasts from nine to eighteen months before the surgery and serves to align and level of your teeth to ensure the surgery goes smoothly and achieves the most positive and desirable effects.

Healing Time for Reconstructive Jaw Surgery

Once the surgery is successfully completed, you will be allowed to heal for approximately 6 weeks, after which your orthodontist will complete the alignment and take off the braces. Your orthodontic and orthognathic treatment team will communicate with you constantly throughout the treatment timeframe to ensure that you know what to expect and that things go as smoothly and quickly as possible for you.

When & Where Orthognathic Surgery Is Performed

This type of surgery can be performed on the lower jaw, the upper draw, or both draws. It is ideal to conduct of the surgical procedure once growth has completed. This usually means the surgery takes place after the ages of 13 and 15 for girls and 16 to 18 for guys. In most cases, jaw reconstructive surgery is entirely within the mouth area, so no scars are visible on the outside of the mouth. You can expect to not have any facial scars after the reconstructive procedure is performed.

After the upper or lower jawbones are correctly aligned the surgeon will typically place a screw or bone plate to attach the bones into their new positions securely. In particularly severe cases, a bone graft to the jaw may be necessary. If this is the case, a small piece of bone will be transplanted from your chin, or hip and attached in place with temporary wires while it heals and merges with the surrounding bone tissue.

Orthognathic surgery, or jawbone reconstructive surgery, can be performed either in an outpatient or inpatient setting, which will depend on what sort of procedure is required in each individual case.

What to Expect After Reconstructive Jaw Surgery:

You can expect to experience some level of facial swelling after these surgical procedures. This is common and varies from case to case. It typically increases for two or three days after the surgery procedure, and then gradually goes away. You can also expect your face to adapt gradually to the surgery over the following year. High school and college students often decide to have this type of procedure performed during the summer. In the case of adults, they usually take about 1-3 weeks off from work to allow time for healing.

Other cases where jaw reconstructive surgery may be beneficial:

  • Issues with speech or talking
  • Protruding jaw that sticks out farther than it should
  • Perpetual jaw bone pain
  • Problems with eating, including biting or chewing problems
  • Breathing problems
  • An open bite where the mouth does not close all the way properly

If you have been experiencing any of these issues, you may want to consider orthognathic surgery as a treatment option.

When might these issues occur?

You might experience any of these issues from birth or even develop them later on in life as the result of environmental or hereditary factors. You could also develop these issues from some form of injury or trauma to your face.

 Before any sort of treatment is decided upon, you will need to have a consultation with an orthodontic professional for a close examination of your x-rays. During this consultation process, make sure to ask any questions that you may have about the treatment options available to you.

After you are completely informed about all the aspects and options on the table, you and your dental care provider team can make an informed decision and proceed with the treatment plan.

Reconstructive jaw surgery can definitely help to improve your appearance, comfort, and overall well-being. Be sure to contact your dental care provider to ask which type of procedure is right for you. Have you or a loved one had successful jawbone reconstructive surgery in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

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